As Minister of Agriculture appeals for enhanced FAO support to manage crop diseases in Nigeria
5th September 2017, Abuja - The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nation and the Government of Nigeria have signed a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) agreement as part of enhanced joint effort to manage the spread of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) across the country.
Nigeria's Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh and FAO Country Representative to Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma both signed the Technical Cooperation agreement at a ceremony in Abuja.
Speaking moments after the signing, chief Ogbeh emphasized on the need to build the capacity of countries within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region for effective management of the pest saying the effect of the pest on the Nigerian economy was significant, as it had not only affected maize but other crops such as rice, wheat, sorghum and vegetable crops.
"If we do not contain the FAW infestations, it is likely to compromise our agriculture efforts in this country. I want to make a passionate appeal to all agencies especially FAO to be on the standby and come to our rescue", he added.
Chief Ogbeh further noted that the attack on crops have contributed to importation of maize, causing anxiety among farmers and a severe rise in the market prices and that steps have to be taken to curb the pest and other crop diseases, as excessive food importation has been a challenge to the country over the years.
On his part, Mr. Koroma said the agreement demonstrates Nigerian government's commitment and serves as an incentive for farmers to know that appropriate action was being taken to ease the damage to crops and loss of income.
"Unguided use of pesticides may not only result in environmental contamination, it can also increase the cost of production through frequent costly spraying, which poses a real challenge to sustainable and profitable production of maize among small holder farmers', he noted.
FAO cautions the excessive application of pesticides
There is extra risk for heightened pesticide residue in farm environments and the consumption the produce, therefore, an increase in demand for pesticide application to protect crops from FAW will translate into more pesticide exposure for humans, livestock and other non-target organism and objects including 'natural enemies' which can often provide FAW control.
Farmers should not panic at the sign of FAW infestation, but to inform plant protection and extension services for guidance on the best available solutions, Mr. Koroma stated.
FAO is providing a three-tier approach to manage and control the FAW – in the short term, support countries through TCP emergency mechanism to mitigate the outbreaks, experience sharing and training on management options; in the medium term, support awareness raising and knowledge on sustainable FAW management based on area-wide monitoring, develop consolidated knowledge on biology and ecology of FAW as well as reliable data on yield losses and socio-economic impacts; and in the long term, support the development of community based Integrated Pest Management programs with emphasis on preventive measures and focus on agronomic practices, use of tested tolerant/resistant varieties and comprehensive and appropriate biological control programs.
The objective of the TCP includes the establishment of capacities to detect, monitor and control the FAW infestation in maize production. The project is expected to improve national capacities for Fall Armyworm surveillance and monitoring in affected areas, establishment of Public Awareness on FAW, strengthen national capacities for FAW management, restore productive capacity and enhance livelihood in the worst affected households.
Fall Armyworm (FAW), an invasive pest has invaded and rapidly spread across many countries of Africa. The worm is damaging crops, especially maize across the continent and has the potential to cause significant yield losses. The pest is native to the Americas, where farmers and researchers have been managing and studying it for many years.
David Karls Tsokar
National Communication Officer
+234 805 343 7947